Of course, like any bike dork, when there's 10 inches of snow on the ground (that's 25.4 centimeters, or roughly 50 Cipollini phalluses), I find myself wondering if I should get a so-called "fat bike" so that I can continue to ride uninterrupted. The fat bike, as I'm sure you're aware, has already reached complete "fixification," inasmuch as it passes the Bike Trend Litmus Test by satisfying the following criteria:
People With Fat Bikes Won't Shut Up About It
They just won't. If I could invent an app that gave you an electrical shock every time you tweeted about your goddamn fat bike you can be sure I would.
The Wall Street Journal Has Written About It
Bikes have long been called "the new golf," and if so then the fat bike must be the new Big Bertha, because check this out:
They even included the requisite automotive metaphors for the hedge fund set:
"Fat bikes," as this class of cycle is commonly called, are the Hummers of the two-wheeler world.
What they failed to mention, however, is that you can fit an entire Dorothy Rabinowitz inside the tire of a fat bike. As I read this, I had a vivid fantasy of Ms. Rabinowitz "accidentally" winding up inside one of the tires of a Wall Street Journal test bike and only being discovered after the tester removed it to repair a flat after a particularly rocky descent. (Inside a fat bike tire, nobody can hear you scream.) It would be sort of like when they open those shipping containers and find a bunch of suffocated stowaways, except you wouldn't feel particularly bad for the victim.
(I'm just kidding about the above, of course. Obviously it's completely unrealistic since there's no way a Wall Street Journal employee could possibly repair a flat tire.)
Walmart Will Sell You A Cheap One
Yup, they most certainly will:
(Shipped direct from China, please check your tires for stowaways before riding.)
Oh, and on top of all that there's at least one fat bike world championships, so there you go.
Despite all this, as soon as I find myself pondering fat bike ownership, I stop myself and scream "NO!," which my fellow subway passengers pretend not to notice. It would be one thing if I lived in one of those places with really severe winters, where having a fat bike and not having one is the difference between riding and not riding for like six months. However, I live in New York City, and while our winters are pretty tough compared to, say, Portland's, there are really only a couple weeks a year when the snow actually keeps you from riding a "normal" bicycle. Even after a blizzard it's rarely more than a few days before you can at least ride around in circles in the park to keep yourself from going crazy, and as much as I hate to admit it all our car traffic means most streets are usually passable in short order.
More than this, though, is that at this point in my life I recognize the importance of actually listening to the weather when it says "don't ride." I mean seriously, give it a rest once in awhile and get a life. As the owner of a human child I take great pleasure in creating the memories he will cherish later in life. That's why when it snows I want him to remember us doing stuff like sledding, and building snowmen, and chucking snowballs at cars and old people. What I don't want him to remember is his father pedaling away into a blizzard on a stupid fat bike like an idiot, disappearing for five hours at a time to ride like three miles.
(One day your child will have a tattoo of this bike that says, "Daddy didn't love me.")
I mean, sure, if he wants to ride a fat bike when he gets older we can do that together, but to be perfectly honest I'd rather him spend his snowstorms taking out old people with snowballs until he's at least 20.
So yeah, while I begrudge no bike dork his fat bike, I'm fine with having way too many bikes and being able to ride like 99% of the time instead of 100% of the time.
At the same time, I also realize that the rides I do take need to count. Physically speaking I've crested the climb and am now zipping up for the final descent. From here on in I only get fatter, balder, slower, smellier, and sicker. Really, the best I can hope for is a few decades of false flat before I really start to plummet. Therefore, I've got to pick my rides with care. Why sit there gasping at the back of the pack in a race (and pay to do so no less!) when I can ride alone, enjoy the view, and stop whenever I want to indulge my increasingly frequent need to urinate? Why abandon my family during a snowstorm to ride when I can instead abandon them on a beautiful day?
Furthermore, after last Thursday's post, I realized I have to change my approach to helping my fellow cyclists while I'm out riding. Until now I've always stopped and offered help to any cyclist standing on the side of the road, and while I'm always irritated when they actually accept it I always do whatever I can, even if I scowl while I do it and then mock them later on the Internet. Going forward though I think I'm going to have to limit these time-consuming interactions, since I'm becoming increasingly aware of the fact that every ride could be my last.
Of course, when you see some Fred standing there helplessly, most of the time the problem is a flat tire, and I've decided that I will not help you with your puncture if you are guilty of any of the following:
You Do Not Have A Pump
A lot of Freds now seem to think they can carry a CO2 inflator instead of a pump, and I know this because of all the times I've stopped for somebody who's got a long story about how he put in a new tube and then his CO2 accidentally discharged like a premature ejaculator at a strip club so now he has no way to put air in his tire. Why would you ever set out on a ride without a bottomless source of air? If you like to limit your fun to the contents of a gas canister then take up SCUBA.
You Do Not Have A Spare Tube
Now that's just stupid. What are you thinking?
You Do Not Have A Spare Tube Because You've Gone To "Road Tubeless," The System Which Has Made Flats A Thing Of The Past, Except Now You Have One And You Have No Way To Fix It And You Can't Even Get The Tire Off The Rim Because The Bead Is Too Tight
Ha, ha! See ya!
You Do Not Have Patches
So you have a pump, and you have a spare tube, and then you install the spare tube and get a flat again because you didn't get the piece of whatever out of the tire. Congratulations. Only having one tube and no patches is no better than only having a CO2 inflator.
So not only will I not help you, but I will also take one of the patches from my unsightly saddle bag and eat it right in front of you before riding away.
Anyway, I think this is a pretty good start, and given that this describes most of the flat tire scenarios I encounter I may very well may never have to stop again.